Friday, 1 September 2017

Summer Update...

What a busy summer - but not exactly in a sporting way! I have had a lovely break with my family, my best laid plans of swimming everyday were curtailed by my youngest having bronchitis and not being able to tolerate any cold water! We did compete at the Dart 18 National Championships (read on for report) and I have done a little bit of cycling but I have to confess to mainly exercising my arm whilst lifting a glass to my lips...oops!

My first event of the summer was the Manchester to Blackpool 60 mile cycle ride in July.  Chris and I were raising money to help send a friends child to Disneyland - Harrison is 8 years old and has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy - a life-limiting condition which means he is losing mobility as he ages as his muscles weaken.  

After the sprint finish!  Still smiling! Pigtails flying!

Some of #TeamSkoda!
Here is a report of the day...

Well, what an experience!  I can categorically say that the organisation of getting 18 people plus bikes to and from Manchester/Blackpool was more exhausting than the ride itself!  For us regular Peak District cyclists it was totally different from the drags and drops we are used to.   

Caz and I leading the legend that is Fred Salmon! (And some random guy!)
The route was mainly flat and for us hillbillies it was not too challenging a ride, even though most of us had never covered the distance.  The scenery improved from about halfway and the roads were mainly quiet.  I would advise a novice rider to try a closed road type sportive ideally, as with the volume of cyclists - some of the cars encountered were getting quite frustrated (for good reason!).  Some of the worst obstacles were the other riders as some people were obviously not regular riders and some were downright dangerous wobbling about the road.  

Fitness was not a problem for most of our team, everyone took it at their own pace and had a group to ride with, next time I would definitely like to set off earlier to avoid the slower riders and I would only ride with one or two others - agreed beforehand.  It is very difficult waiting for people and a long day if you feel you're not progressing, in fact physically it is the time in the saddle which is the biggest hurdle for most people.  Our team worked well as we ended up in comfortable groups, but in hindsight this should probably have been agreed before the day as I personally spent about 20 miles trying (but not succeeding!) not to lose anyone and making sure nobody was on their own.  

Once I settled into a group I found the ride really enjoyable - you feel like you are really making progress flying past people - I don't think that there was one part of the route where I lost sight of another rider! Stupidly, I made a huge mistake about 15 miles from Blackpool at one of the excellent food stops.  I obviously hadn't eaten enough en-route and was starving.  I wolfed down a chicken salad sandwich and a bakewell flapjack washed down with some tea (I know, rookie error!), this was great until I started to push for the finish, resulting in stomach cramp!  I should definitely have known better but one of my downfalls is my big appetite! 

Overall I really enjoyed the day, and I will definitely do it again, it whet my appetite for big sportives for sure.  Big thanks to Skoda for the jerseys, my Dad Alan, Chris' Dad Jim, my Mum Angela, Fred from the Bike Factory, Simon Twigg and the Whytes for driving the various vehicles and giving lifts and everyone who came and made it a really fun day!  

At the finish!
My top tips for anyone considering the Manchester to Blackpool ride would be 

  • Train properly!
  • Arrange as much as you can beforehand - particularly transport to and from the event
  • Have your bike serviced before the day and carry spare tubes/pump
  • Find a friend who is the same fitness/ability level as you to ride with
  • Wear correct clothing - padded shorts are a must!
  • Eat small amounts often - I regretted not following this advice!
  • Watch out for other riders - inexperienced riders are unpredictable!
  • Drink sips of water every 20 minutes 
  • Encourage others and enjoy the atmosphere

Running Update...
Well there is good and bad news on this, as my 6 weeks rest period was drawing nearer I tried a couple of short 2.5km runs before we went away.  I wore cushioned shoes and didn't push it, wow my running fitness had disappeared!  I felt so unfit and slightly panicked at my (reduced) lung capacity!

I am not the most patient person when to comes to running, I just like going fast, but I realised I needed to be steady and take it slow.  On the Isle of Wight for our summer holiday I tried another few runs, the first was a 5km trail run, it felt ok and the highlight was encountering a lady who shouted "week 3, couch to 5k!" as we crossed paths, it was lovely!  I shouted "Well done, keep going!" and it hit me how much I have missed it.  

I did a 6 km off roader, after that and it felt great to be back on grass!  My hip didn't seem to complain too much, so I tried another, slightly quicker 4km but this was a step too far and my hip was sore for days afterwards.  I then waited 5 days and tried running home - less than 2km from the Bike Factory and it hurt again.  To say I am frustrated with it is an understatement.  I feel slow and like I may never be the same runner again, I am going to ask my physio if there is anything else I can do.  

Back in July I was approached by Runderwear to review their running briefs - I jumped at the chance and was hoping to have fully tested them by now!  I will be writing a full review of them in due course but in a nutshell, I love them!  I have cycled and run in them and find them flattering and comfortable.  Watch this space for more info on them soon!

Dart 18 National Sailing Championships 
August Bank Holiday saw the national Championships at Dee Sailing Club on the Wirral.  Chris and I have been sailing the Dart (an 18 foot catamaran) together for 18 years - Chris introduced me to the sailing circuit - both National and International - when I was just 16! We work very well as a team and have had some good results over the years including numerous club wins when we sailed at Carsington Water (we have an impressive trophy cabinet!) and then later successes at Dee sailing Club on the Wirral - our home club.  We have competed in France and Italy and had good results at the Anglesey Offshore.

When the children came along the sailing reduced massively, as happens with lots of people.  My parents have always been great and we always try to support our club where we can, the Nationals were no exception!

There were 70 boats entered and we had a mixed bag weatherwise.  On shore the wind felt strong but we had mainly light airs over the competition with the exception of one great race where it blew up to around a force 4.  

We improved over the course of the races and by race 10 we were really getting into it!  Our best results were a 17th and a 21st and we had the best time!  

Dee Sailing Club were amazing hosts as always, with highlights including a beer and a pasty after racing from the Dee Galley Gals (literally on the beach!), live music at a hilltop bar created for the event featuring local talent (and fellow Dart 18 sailor) Lucy Mayhew,  Wirral Gin!, the live band on Saturday night playing from 10pm - 1.30am non stop!, the nicest people you could ever meet, Wirral Gin! and some great sailing!

Full results here.

What's next?
I have been given the opportunity to take part in the Velo Birmingham - a 100 mile sportive, and to write about my experience for Totally Active Magazine - I am nervous but excited to take part, I just hope my holiday depleted fitness levels can make it round - watch this space!

I hope my next blog will be full of the joys of running again, but if not I am always thankful for being able to do any form of exercise so cycling and swimming and not to forget pilates will definitely be back on the menu once school recommences! 

In the meantime, happy running, sailing, cycling...


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